Jan. 8th Memorial plans progress as legislation lingers

Updated: Mar. 22, 2017 at 6:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The January 8th Memorial is moving forward in Tucson, even as lawmakers are holding still.

Naming rights were announced and approved at the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday night. But the January 8th Memorial
Foundation hasn't yet put all the money together needed to complete construction on what's planned at El Presidio Park in downtown.

The foundation's executive director, Crystal Kasnoff, said they're making progress. She said they will rely on private donations if they can't get the matching $2.5 million they need from the state government.

The Arizona House of Representatives had already approved HB 2436, by a 49-11 vote, back on February 23. The legislation to appropriate funds for the planned memorial is currently sitting in the Senate, following a second reading. Records show no legislative steps have been taken since March 1.

Kasnoff isn't waiting around.

"We've been working through phases of construction with private funding up until now. So we're at the point now where we can do the construction document phase, which is the phase right before we go to construction. And we are funded to do that," she said.

Planned construction on the finished product is estimated at $5 million. Kasnoff said they've pulled together more than $1 million from private donations. That includes the largest donation to-date, of $500,000 from Tucson Medical Center.

The hospital's name will be front and center on the Memorial Gardens Walk, planned to go on the west side of the Old Pima County Courthouse.

It's one step forward in the process, even though lawmakers haven't yet voted on the appropriation of funds.

"It has not slowed our timeline at all," Kasnoff said Wednesday. "We have continued to engage with the community and gather support, which we are continuing to do."

Kasnoff said she is also hopeful that pending legislation at the federal level would gr ant them status as a national memorial. By doing so, it would give them naming rights as a national memorial and a listing with the National Park Service.

With approval in the state government, HB 2436 would give state funding for the memorial honoring the victims and survivors of the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting that targeted former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.

Jared Lee Loughner killed six and injured Giffords and 12 others in the 2011 shooting. He was sentenced to life in prison.

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